Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link

Setting the scene
May 18, 2009
Left-field compulsions are known to take over many people; I recently felt obligated to re-visit many old-school NES titles I had access to. One of my all time favorites that I can't help but praise is Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link. I can vividly recall staring down the flat gold packaging of this cartridge as I gripped the unopened box between my grubby 6 year old hands. I was in for a ride that, nearly two decades later, I can still enjoy and remember the hours of fun hammering away at as a child.

Ahh, there it is. Didn't you feel lucky when you found a golden cartridge inside?

The Opening

The second tale of an already unforgettable NES hero, Link, was about to begin. When you begin the adventure, you are given the duty of naming your save game file (which, at the time, was a treasured feature offered by Nintendo in select games).

With 7 palaces to conquer before facing the source of all evil, our teenage, likely hormone-driven hero can only hope Zelda puts out after this is over.

The Adventure of Link begins in a palace in northwestern Hyrule, where a sleeping Princess Zelda lays alone nearly lifeless behind our young hero, standing sword in hand, prepared to travel the great hall in front of him as unbefriended light from the dimly lit torches color his elfish 8-bit face. It was time to face a whole world being corrupted by what was said to be minions of the late evil lord Ganon.

How I Saw It go Down

Link heads west out the gates of the palace, battling creatures resembling blobs called Bits and Bots, the sandworm-like Geldarms, and the dog faced Moblin warriors (to name a few). Along the path to his first destination, a town called Rauru, Link gains experience from his kill-or-be-killed lifestyle, discovering that he can take his damage resistance, magic power, and physical power up to 8 levels of mastery, which will take many hard fought battles and visits to the local healer to survive through.

This battle could have been avoided had Link brought Milk Bones along with him to satisfy the local woodsmen.

Upon his arrival, Link decides to socialize with the locals and discovers a young female who greets him with a smile and requests that our hero speak with her father. Probably in hopes of scoring a phone number, Link wanders into the stranger's house, unbeknownst to whatever goes on in their basement behind closed doors. To his surprise, Link is granted the power of Shield magic, which increases the strength of his armor and makes him look way cooler until he leaves the room, when the
armor magically exits his clothing; possibly due to Link's poor sense of fashion.

Link - "So, like, do you text?" (Most bipedal organisms our hero had crossed paths with bore the faces of horrid animals and carried sharp weapons. Link had become a valiant warrior, but he was no pickup artist.)

Before leaving town, Link stumbles upon a small child native to the area who instructs him to head West to a palace in the Parapa Desert to find a magic candle. The advice is somehow heeded by our hero who is busy staring inquisitively at the boy's painfully awful haircut. A mental note is made to wait and visit the barber in the next town. With a sharpened blade and an unhealthy affection for expensive and rare wax, he takes order from the strange boy and heads off the beaten path, through the Moblin infested forest and into a pitch black cave west of town. Could this be it?

God damn, it's dark in here. Are those tentacles?
After surviving the cave, Link examines his boots, now covered in slime from tentacles. Tentacles? What type of cave creature paints a dirt floor with its slimy underbody and is easily sliced apart by a visionless elf? It was dark in there. Outside the cave, a dry pale desert covers the land, stopped only by the horizon of dark ocean laying flush underneath a cobalt sky.

Here's a shot of Link blindly entering the palace as he realizes he just took advice from a random kid who's house he had barged into unannounced.

After long minutes of travel, our hero arrives at the base of the palace's stone stairway, just as the little chunky kid with a bad haircut had predicted. Our hero cautiously enters the depths of the structure, only to discover a maze full of terror and locked doors that, when discovered, cause a feeling of disappointment and emptiness that would otherwise only be obtained by getting a hand crocheted touque with that weird puffy ball on the top as a Christmas gift.

Repeatedly stumbling into dead ends thanks to not being able to unlock doors has allowed anger to grant Link the fighting spirit to take down even the most armored foes.

Hardened from the long road that preceeded him, Link slashes and stabs his way through the legions of armored and skeletal enemies, developing strategies to most efficiently take their lives. Through many hallways, Link discovers the magic candle guarded by an Ironknuckle knight who was fortunately distracted by the 200 pounds of armor he was wearing. After issuing several stab wounds to the knight's face, Link steps over the metallic bronze carcass and grabs the candle.

"Holy. Awesome. Candle. No WONDER they've got this thing locked up tighter than a sandturtle's lips."

Our hero heads to the deepest end of the labyrinth to find Horsehead, the creatively named 7-foot tall ringleader with a skull structure I needn't describe. An epic battle is had between the two, and of course Link comes out on top once he realizes his enemy cannot wear a helmet as his head is that of a horse's.

"You must be Link."
"You must be the dark lord Thunderbird..."
"Actually, it's Horsehead."

Finally, peace is restored to the land when Link inserts a magic crystal into a statue that was guarded by Horsehead, and upon his exit, the palace is seen to quickly disappear as it transforms to a small lifeless mountain. On the way back, he is rewarded for his fine wax lust as the magic candle lights up the entire pitch black cave, an area recently known to contain mysterious tentacles. The cave is breezed through and Link heads northeast to Ruto town to rest before discovering his next path toward awakening the still idle princess Zelda.

Well, that's one for our young warrior. Now, to scour the world and restore crystals in the other 6 palaces. "I need a haircut."

The first chapter of the game is complete. There are still many more maze-like palaces to be conquered before Zelda can be awakened, and the sporadically imaginative storyline has only begun...the now-addicted 6-year old gamer must make great sacrifices, such as being late for dinner, to find out what happens next.
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